Art Deco Disconze

Good friends of ours from Fredericton, Diane and Chris Carson, have a room in their house where they want maximum light and maximum privacy (opposing criteria) by using something on the window more interesting than a pull-down shade… something like stained glass!

The Carsons were willing to take the time with me to explore the elements of theme, design, pattern development and glass selection. They both have strong personal artistic preferences. This made for dynamic and energized planning sessions both online (using Google Photos and Gmail) and in person at their home, at two different glass retail stores and in my studio in Saint John. All that artistic collaboration was very motivating. The final design chosen is an inspired adaptation of a 1910 art deco window by French artist Auguste Labouret from Hotel Lutetia in Paris. The concept is a series of eleven discs overlapping from top to bottom like fish scales. Art Deco is one of my favorite art genres and is the style of my beloved Schiffer Panel in my living room.

To achieve maximum light, we decided to use mainly textured clears and limit the colored glass to the center of each disc. The criteria for all textures was to provide as much diffusion of light as possible to achieve privacy. There are lots of glass patterns which do that, some better than others. Together, we browsed many options as we narrowed it down to a variety of warm-tone textures for the disc centers and the clear textures for the large main parts. I continued browsing my studio inventory during construction to select glass for the disc rings and hubs. In total, there are 16 different textured patterns in this composition; 5 colors and 11 clears.

The artistic challenge was threefold: a) arrange the various textures so each is repeated throughout the panel at least once with some up to four times, b) ensure adjacent glass selections are sufficiently contrasted and c) ensure each disc is unique in glass composition. The main technical challenge was relearning to work with lead came after not doing so for many years. Much thanks to You Tube videos!

Although I was tempted, for the sake of feedback, to keep the online connection with Diane and Chris open and active all during construction, I refrained. Instead, I worked away in stealth mode with only Monica’s occasional stroll-by observation/opinion. Sometimes I pay attention to her advice (if I agree), sometimes I don’t (but should? 😐 darned self-doubt). Nevertheless, she was a continuous source of encouragement and an essential help in flipping the panel several times so I could work the other side. I wouldn’t want to try that alone with a panel this size.

Because of the newness of working with lead came and in combination with copper foil in ways I had never done before, I was anxious/excited the whole four weeks it took to complete. In the end, I was pleased with how it turned out. Along the way I learned the following: my estimation of time-to-completion on new projects is often short and in this case was only half what it actually took AND panels this large are flimsy and need extra support for security AND liquid cement is easier and faster but putty is much cleaner to work with (I cemented the front and puttied the back). For all this learning, I am thankful that Diane and Chris brought their love of art and this wonderful challenge-opportunity to Nellyglass Studio. I enjoyed the collaboration and the studio work immensely.